Recent Comments

    Parents of Autistic Children Fighting for Their Dogs in Schools

    Parents of Autistic Children Fighting for Their Dogs in Schools

    Photo from: Flickr / cc

    Autism affects 1 in 110 children with boys being 4 times more likely to get it than girls. There are many degrees and forms of autism and the use of dogs in schools is being considered only for the moderate to severe forms. These children typically are non-verbal or speak very little, have difficulty controlling their emotions and tend to withdraw to a place all of their own within themselves.

    Service dogs have been used in these cases, regardless of their size.  Usually the service dogs are a larger breed such as a Labrador but can be smaller. The main trait is that they are “bomb-proof”. This term is used by trainers and handlers and means that the dog is not startled easily and can take aggression and over stimulation that autistic children sometimes demonstrate.

    The Good Dog Foundation trains such dogs for use in many situations.  This organization has been training dogs for good deeds for 15 years. One of these deeds is helping autistic children. Shadow is a black lab and with his owner/handler Ani Shaker, they have been working at the Anderson Center for Autism in New York. This center is for children ages 5 – 21 years old.

    The school witnesses Shadow calm students who are having temper tantrums in less time than a staff person or time out. Shadow also has seemed to bridge the chasm between reality and the inner place that autistic children go to hide by bringing the child back to reality. Children, who were previously non-verbal, now will give simple commands to the dog and then will use these same words for their teachers.

    Another dog, a golden retriever, was used in working with a boy to get him to make his requests to his teacher out loud.  The boy would simply point to what he wanted previously and now the boy will ask if he can feed the dog, brush the dog or take the dog for a walk. This has now crossed over to him asking for things when the dog is not around.

    The American Disabilities Act (ADA) does require accommodations be made in certain instances with someone with a disability. It may require students with disabilities be allowed to have a dog in their classroom.  Two other laws or codes that speak to this include the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Both of these are part of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

    It is said ‘dogs are a man’s best friend’ but they are also likely a child’s best advocate!

     

    Do We Need Tighter Regulations For People To Enter Schools?

    Photo credit here.

    Photo credit here.

    Between 2000 and 2009, here were close to 50 school shootings in the U.S. Between 2010 and January 2014, that number is close to 70 and the decade is just barely at the halfway mark. Anyone looking at those statistics is probably thinking that a degree in teaching is apparently getting to be a riskier option these days and they would probably be right.  While there were no fatalities in the Roswell, New Mexico school shooting or the Philadelphia shooting that happened just three days later, this is just another situation that begs the question about gun control, mental health and the reality of school safety.

    Faculty and Guns

    The hero of Berrendo Middle School is social studies teacher John Masterson, who talked the preteen shooter into putting the gun down. While the job description of a teacher doesn’t generally include ‘stop gunman’, more teachers in these situations instinctively place their lives in between bullets and students; sometimes with more tragic consequences. There has been debate about whether teachers should be armed while in the classroom. Some laud the idea but the reality is that many teachers with guns could be a distraction. Not to mention the possibility of students getting quicker access to a firearm that’s in the vicinity and accidental discharges, the list of things that can go wrong in a situation like that are numerous. At the end of the day, many to acknowledge that even though some teachers may be trained to use firearms, the primary role of a teacher is to teach students.

    What Are Some Options?

    In response to the Newtown shooting, National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre’s “good guy with a gun” comment got a lot of reaction on both sides. There was talk about increasing the number of armed guards and police at schools but finances for some schools is a big consideration. Mental health in relation to being able to purchase guns was also brought to the forefront and while the discussions seemed to be going in a positive direction, there is still a lot left undone as those with mental health issues can still gain access to firearms without buying a gun. Creating special bullet proof windows and doors that prevent shooters from getting into classrooms may be a safe solution if schools can find the money for the refit, which will take time to implement.

    Training for Students and Teachers

    During wartime, both teachers and students were taught what to do when they heard the air raid sirens. In this case, training like this is probably the only option that can be implemented much quicker than bullet proof classrooms and increased security. Students are being trained regularly with safety drills and folding in this additional training routine would help them to be prepared just like they would be in case of fire or some other disaster. While this may not stop shooters from wanting to take innocent lives, it may lessen the casualty list and buy time for law enforcement to take over.

    Don’t Want to Be a Lawyer? You Can Still Get Into the Courtroom

    Photo credit here.

    Photo credit here.

    For those who want to participate in the legal profession, but do not want to go through the rigors of law school and the tens of thousands of dollars worth of student debt it can build, there are other well paying professions that can be sought.

    Two of the most popular are court reporters and paralegals. Both of these professions offer substantial salaries while still being full participants in the legal profession. Plus, both professions will be in greater demand over the next decade thanks to new opportunities and expansions. For many, developing a career as a court reporter or paralegal offers many rewards and advancement opportunities as well.

    What is a Court Reporter?

    Also called stenographers, a court reporter is a person who records official transcriptions of courtroom and legal proceedings along with public speeches as well. Their job is to create a precise word-for-word accounting of all parties that participate in such events. Court reporters will type down all dialogue, physical actions and even gestures of the people in these proceedings. In addition, court reporters do the following;

    -       Review notes for Accuracy

    -       Prepare Written Transcripts

    -       Edit Records for grammatical or typographical errors

    -       Search for Records Information

    -       Provide Copies of the Record for all Involved Parties and More

    An average court reporter salary is roughly $53,000 per year depending on location, experience and place where a court reporter works. While they are obviously found in courtrooms, court reporters also work for local governments, the motion picture and television industry to provide closed captioning as well as provide other services for the deaf or hard of hearing. In addition, court reporters may be independent agents who are hired to record different types of events as well.

    What is a Paralegal?

    A paralegal is a very important member of a legal team, operating as the necessary support that that provides help for attorneys to prepare for court cases, hearings and corporate meetings as well. Paralegals are generally responsible for a number of activities which includes the following;

    -       Maintaining and Organizing Files

    -       Investigative Research

    -       Drafting Contracts

    -       Preparing Legal Documents & More

    Paralegals will use computer databases to help fully organize information that is essential for hearings and trials. Particularly any data, documents, emails or finances that can help lawyers make the best case possible. It is fair to state that paralegals are the backbone of research for most law firms.

    The typical paralegal salary is roughly $50,000 per year depending on experience, location and the firm that paralegals work. Paralegals in certain parts of the country can earn more than $60,000 or more on average while in some rural or less populated areas the salary can dip into roughly $30,000.

    Both professions offer numerous career opportunities without having to expend as much in time and money for education like attorneys. In this sense, court reporters and paralegals are vital towards the operation of the legal system and they provide many rewards of their own as well.

    Catching Criminals with Science: New Processes Proving Effective

    Photo credit here.

    Photo credit here.

    Catching criminals today relies far more upon utilizing new technologies in the field of forensic science. In fact, many of the most popular TV shows today deal in the area of forensic science.  Also called forensic analysts or technicians, criminalists and crime scene investigators, a forensic scientist has many different assignments that they must perform depending on their overall training and emphasis in the law enforcement field.

    For many, the field of forensic science is a very attractive one thanks to the high salary and differences found within the profession itself that allows for different job opportunities as well as advancement. With the emphasis on law enforcement shifting more to embrace new technologies, forensic science is at the forefront of many law enforcement professions.

    What is a Forensic Scientist?

    Essentially, a forensic scientist brings proven scientific methods to criminal investigations in gathering appropriate evidence. They work as criminal technicians and analysts, biologist, chemist, toolmark examiners, educators and more to reveal the truth about a particular crime or incident.

    This is certainly a profession that is in high demand all across the country as more law enforcement agencies rely on the accurate gathering of evidence. It takes at least a bachelor’s degree to become a forensic scientist with all the training performed at the educational level. There is usually a great deal of biological and physical sciences involved in forensic science. In some cases, a forensic scientist may even undergo police academy training before being employed.

    The projected job growth for forensic scientists is currently marked at 20% above the 2010 levels, which is far faster than the national average. A forensic scientist salary generally ranges around $55,000 per year, depending on their experience and location. For those that advance in the profession, they often wind up supervising or even teaching courses.

    Gathering & Examining the Evidence

    A forensic scientist will gather and examine evidence found at a crime scene. From fingerprints to DNA samples, toolmarks, firearms, forensic photography, examining trace evidence, detection of fire and explosives and so forth. There are certainly different specialties in the forensic science field. Although mostly limited to the criminal justice field, forensic science has been used to detect smuggled items and even revealing nuclear weapon programs.

    There are over 4,000 forensic crime laboratories in the US alone. Everyday, forensic scientist are gathering, analyzing and reporting on the evidence that they have discovered.

    Relating the Evidence in Court

    The final step for a forensic scientist is to relay their findings in a courtroom setting or through the deposition process. Here, a court reporter takes down all the information related by the forensic scientist in terms of their findings. In addition, any answers to the questions provided by both the prosecution and defense to the forensic scientist are taken down as well for the official record.

    Overall, the forensic scientist is one of the most important elements of the law enforcement community. Gathering, documenting and reporting on evidence in criminal cases is what forensic science is all about.

    Do Paramedics Get Sued for Malpractice?

    Photo credit here.

    Photo credit here.

    Paramedics are the first responders to the scene of an accident, illness or medical issue of an emergency nature. All paramedics are trained to follow a strict protocol when dealing with patients in quickly diagnosing potential medical issues and providing immediate treatment while transporting them to the hospital.

    Just like all hospital personnel, especially doctors, phlebotomists and nurses, paramedics can be sued as well. They are just as open to lawsuits as anyone else in the medical profession which means that following established protocols is a must for not only saving the lives of their patients, but also in minimizing the potential damage from a lawsuit.

    Why Paramedics Can Be Sued

    A typical paramedic salary is around $50,000 per year depending on their location, education and experience levels. However, paramedics are often required to be doctors, nurses and phlebotomists all at once when arriving at the scene and initially treating a patient. Even the best trained paramedics however can make mistakes which may result in the further injury or death of the patient.

    When these mistakes occur, the patient or their survivors can sue the EMT as well as hospital and group that they were assigned with because of these mistakes. In fact, people in general can be sued for many different things. But the difference between a frivolous lawsuit and one with merit is when the paramedic deviates from the prescribed protocols in one fashion or another which results in further harm to their patient.

    Wrongful Death Suits

    There are thousands of wrongful death lawsuits filed every year across the United States. One of the more typical ones involved a man in the Boston area who suffered an apparent allergic reaction to his medication. When paramedics arrived, they found him slumped over in the bathroom, yet highly combative when they tried to take him to the ambulance.

    Standard procedure at this point was to provide both oxygen and epinephrine since there were clear signs that the patient was showing symptoms of anaphylaxis. While oxygen was administered, the epinephrine was not and the patient soon went into cardiac arrest. Attempts to resuscitate the patient in the ambulance and in the emergency room proved unsuccessful.

    The failure to administer the epinephrine was deemed the fault of the paramedic in charge. While he cited the agitated stated of the patient that was not deemed to be an adequate reason not to administer the drug. Medical doctors who testified as experts opined that had epinephrine been administered, the patient might very well be alive today.

    It is cases like this one where a singular mistake by a paramedic opens themselves up to legitimate lawsuits. In this particular case, the settlement was for roughly $825,000. For paramedics, following standard procedures and taking all appropriate actions must be the top priority in protecting the patient’s life. In this particular case, it does appear that the paramedic in charge, despite recognizing the symptoms of anaphylaxis, became distracted in following the established protocol and the result was losing a patient that by all rights should still be alive.  Such harsh lessons stand as the reason why paramedics need to be grounded in their training and not distracted by the events or occurrences of the time.

    Is Technology Creating Or Destroying Jobs, Ask Paralegals

    There are things that people need to consider in order for them to pursue a job that is truly worth it and that will meet their needs. Apart from that, they need to make sure that the specific job they want needs to be a legal one as well as supplying all the necessities that they are in need of.

    Most of the jobs as of today are very particular and heavily engaged in the use of the different types of technological inventions that are noticeably seen to be continuously improving. But there are also some jobs wherein they are more focused on the traditional, not very common angle, using modern technological inventions and techniques.

    People are asking if there is such a possibility wherein technology would be basically used for creating and destroying jobs. People are not to familiar with this; they certainly don’t think of a paralegal to better understand it. When people talk about paralegals, they are more thinking that these are the real people behind the middle class which has jobs but not particular more on the use of the different technological inventions.

    There are lots of companies as well as businesses which are in need of workers where paralegal can actually get in touch with, hence they are afraid since the presence as well as the continuous improvement of the technology made all these companies to cater people which are technology literate and has a wide array of knowledge operating and manipulating it. Most of the companies that are in need of these paralegals are the law firms that need assistance for arranging all the files as well as keeping all the records of all the cases.

    In order for a person to be a paralegal or a middle class worker they need to acquire a paralegal certification wherein this would be the proof that you are a certified paralegal worker. People can actually get in touch being one of those if they are going to engage themselves as well as register to have their own paralegal certification which can be done through online registration. These would be a great help for them to be able to be at ease with all the steps they are going to undergo since they are just going to fill out the form which are seen online.

    Paralegals in New York are seen to be one of the best paralegal workers which are highly skilled and knowledgeable in performing all their jobs well. They are more on the fact of giving good service to the people as a result of a high respect and recognition not only in the company but specifically to the public.  When they talk about the technology they are more knowledgeable and skilled with the different types of technology as a result of getting them hired easily.

    When paralegals are asked about technology in connection with their jobs, they are both on the positive as well as the negative aspect of it.  Having knowledge and skills in technology more paralegals are attaining jobs that will definitely lift the aspect of their life since more of the businesses as well as companies today are in need of sophisticated as well as the experience paralegals.  Hence those who are not qualified with these are seen to be losing and having a hard time looking for their jobs.

    Protect Yourself – Medical Identity Theft Is On The Rise

    Many people have heard of identity theft where someone steals your social security number, Medicare number, or other financial information so they can bill people out of lots of money (and likely ruin their credit for a time also). If, and once these people are found, it is very expensive to restore bank balances and credit rating.

    One way to protect yourself is to check your bank balances often including purchases and transfers online to assure that only your transactions are occurring. Many banks and credit cards have special alerts set up so if an unusual or out of country expense is charged, one is notified. Most banks are also pretty easy to deal with in helping one prove they did not purchase the furniture from Mexico while working in ND! The importance of checking your credit score should not be overlooked.

    A recent case of identity theft involved a nurse practitioner from Kings County in Brooklyn. She stole social security numbers and dates of births from patients to supplement her already nice salary. She then sold them to an accomplice who gave them to crooks who then purchased thousands of dollars of merchandise. She has been fired from Kings County for unrelated issues.

    Medical identity theft has also gained momentum, unfortunately, and this is even more risky; as in, death could be a result. The main reason someone steals another’s medical identity is that they do not have medical insurance so they pretend to be someone else and that person’s health insurance is billed. How it becomes a medical nightmare is that the real patient will then have this other patient’s health history in their file (paper or electronic) and this could include a blood type and prior surgical and medical history. So, if the real patient needs blood emergently, the fake patient’s information will be used and this could be deadly.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made health care facilities put into place Red Flag Alert laws to help guard against patient fraud and medical identity. Implementing simple things like requiring photo identification for new patients with non-threatening conditions is recommended. Following up on returned mail with ‘no known address’ is also a good idea.  More sophisticated practices like encrypting medical information all help.

    It is not just large medical facilities that are affected –even small facilities have experienced medical identity theft. The most common thief is a family member as they usually know enough about the patient, such as recent visits, to give enough of a believable history to get away with it. They may also look enough like the real patient to pass the photo id issue.

    Red Flag Alerts also need to be in place by not only hospitals and clinics but also by optometrist, dentists and chiropractors – anyone who bills an insurance company. So, your dental hygienist just may help you more than just cleaning your teeth if she suspects the patient in her chair is not you and checks into it. Asking a dental hygienist to go above and beyond is probably out of their pay grade, but definitely a necessity in the current market.

    Both types of identity theft are dangerous and costly.  Do what you can to protect yourself!

    The Law By The Numbers: Is There Opportunity

    constitution hall train station or somethingThe opportunities in the law profession have actually risen sharply over the past few years thanks to a tanking in the number of people who are taking the LSAT. In fact, LSAT test takers are down 45% since 2009, which means that fewer people are trying to enter the law profession. In fact, the drop is continuing at an alarming rate since the number is down 11% this year from 2012.

    In addition, the LSAT scores over the past few years has been coming down as well. Quite often more than 50% of those entering law school have scores under 150 on the LSAT which represents a significant drop.

    There are a number of reasons why the drop is happening, from a poor job market, high competition, overcrowding of lawyers in many areas, and having to take on tremendous levels of student loan debt just to name a few. These conditions have turned away many students who otherwise would have taken the LSAT and entered the profession.

    With today’s uncertain economic future thrown into the mix, it seems that the outlook for the lawyer profession is lower than ever, which is why the opportunity to pursue this field may be at an all-time high. Although seemingly counter-intuitive, by going ahead and getting into this profession today you will reap the benefits of lesser competition and greater advantages that can be enjoyed.

    Why Become a Lawyer Today?

    There are several reasons why, but essentially with the significantly lower number of people who are entering law school, that means more job openings and opportunities when you graduate. In 2012, the lawyer profession actually saw the biggest increase in law jobs in the past several years. However, the job market was virtually saturated at that point by recent graduates who first started in 2009. Since that time, the number of students who have enrolled in law school has dropped dramatically, yet the number of opportunities has remained high.

    If these trends continue, then a person entering law school in 2014 will find themselves in 2017 staring at a wealth of opportunities with much less competition. Add to this the number of lawyers who will be retiring and the opportunities will rise further the longer they remain in this profession. The law of supply and demand works in the law profession as anywhere else.

    The Advantages of Becoming a Lawyer

    While shouldering the debt from student loans may be difficult for some, finding ways to address these loan issues along with the better opportunities that are available means that those who become lawyers should be able to handle and pay off their debts more quickly.

    Money: The salary of a good lawyer is still very considerable, leading to a good lifestyle once any student loans are paid in full.

    Opportunity: With fewer law school graduates, the number of opportunities for new lawyers will only increase, meaning you can find the work you want to do and where you want to practice.

    Satisfaction: A lawyer is better able to set their own hours and exercise options not available to many in other job markets.

    For those with the interest and passion to enter the law profession now is the time to take action. The opportunities are greater now then they have been in many years.

    Featured pic from: http://ampulse.com/criminal-justice-salary-low-average-high-region/

    Man Does Prison Time for Stealing AZ Pharmacist Identity

    Pills. Photo credit here.

    Pills. Photo credit here.

    As the need for more medical professionals becomes more acute, the lengths to which scammers and thieves will go to make money will become more sophisticated.

    It’s estimated that over 95 percent of online pharmacies aren’t safe for U.S. consumers. In 2009, police in Washington D.C. entered the home of one such dealer and found nearly 20,000 pills.  In July 2013, the FDA seized and shut down nearly 10,000 sites that claimed to be Canadian pharmacies and seized nearly $41 million worth of drugs. Rogue internet pharmacies are billion dollar operations where supposedly legitimate prescription drugs such as Xanax and Vicodin with labels in Chinese or Urdu are sold for a fraction of the cost.

    Risks of Fake Pharmaceuticals

    The risks of potentially counterfeit drugs sold by illegitimate pharmacies are not worth the reduced prices. In too many cases these drugs may be contaminated, expired, or otherwise unfit for consumption. In some cases a slight difference in an ingredient can alter the efficacy of the drug causing patients to get sicker, to develop resistance to the medicine or experience new side effects. If you haven’t been professionally trained as a pharmacist, this may be tough to notice.

    In addition to the health risks, consumers could be putting their financial information in danger as well. These sites aren’t legitimate so they cannot apply for proper security credentials. As a result, those who buy from these illegal online pharmacy outfits become potential identity theft victims with thieves having full access to their personal and financial information.

    More Insidious Risk

    With the FDA cracking down on fake pharmacies and medicines, there’s still a more insidious risk to patient health.  There are identity thieves who impersonate legitimate medical professionals in order to make a few dollars or perhaps for the thrill of it. Take, for instance, the case of Gregory Klonowski. He was convicted and sentenced to nearly four years in prison for stealing the identity of an Arizona pharmacist and providing a patient with more than 400 times the proper dosage of a thyroid medication that caused her heart to stop and left her both comatose and paralyzed.

    In identity theft cases such as these, his pre-employment screening which usually includes checking pharmacy schools and colleges in Arizona for reference didn’t show anything suspicious because his credentials were real. Because this is such an insidious crime, his ruse was only discovered when a patient is seriously hurt by his lack of medical training.

    So how can consumers protect themselves? Any legitimate online pharmacy will be registered and listed in the pharmacy online database for both individuals and businesses. Take the time to check out any online pharmacy to make sure it’s legitimate. In the case of fake pharmacists, there may be nothing anyone can do unless someone is hurt or worse. The only thing consumers can do is ask for a second opinion if they feel that something isn’t right. Unfortunately, the law hasn’t quite caught up yet but they are working on it.

    EPA Recognizes Maine Companies for Being Eco-Friendly

    Endangered Owl. Photo credit here.

    Endangered Owl. Photo credit here.

    Can you imagine what used restaurant kitchen oil and a Dairy in Portland Oregon have in common?  No, they do not use the oil in the production of cheese!   A company called Maine Standard Biofuels (also from Portland) collects and refines used restaurant kitchen oil into a biodiesel fuel and sells it to Oakhurst Dairy to use in their fleet of trucks.

    Oakhurst Dairy used to use regular diesel in their fleet of trucks before the seven year partnership with Maine Standard Biofuels.  Now they use the biodiesel which is much safer for the environment and healthier for the population in the Portland Oregon population.   Biodiesel is a clean-burning diesel replacement made from a diverse mix of feedstock including recycled kitchen oil among other things.

    Oakhurst utilized more than 120,000 gallons of biodiesel reducing their diesel emissions up to 70% annually.  The Oakhurst Fleet and Facilities manager praised this partnership and indicated that their trucking fleets did not need to have equipment modifications  This partnership was recently honored by the Northeast Diesel Collaborative and they were given the 2013 Breathe Easy Leadership award.  It is called a Breathe Easy Leadership award as regular diesel pollution is linked to asthma, heart issue and is especially hard on the very young and elderly.

    The Northeast Diesel Collaborative is a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state agencies, and private and nonprofit groups.  The Northeast Diesel Collaborative works in six  New England states, New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S Virgin Islands.   The whole area of biodiesel has added many jobs to the work place.  Of course, the highly skilled workers come from innovative college programs in the state in order to keep up with demand.

    The EPA was established in December of 1970 by the government with the goal of protecting human health and the natural environment.  One of the purpose statements listed on the EPA website is “environmental protection contributes to making our communities and eco systems diverse, sustainable and economically productive”.  With the advent of diesel and the dangerous emissions, the government stepped in and as a result, the EPA forms partnership as the one noted above.  There are laws against pollution and the EPA helps in this process also.

    There are several training programs available to keep diesel as green as possible and the list is growing.  This is such exciting technology!   When one trains for these jobs, they are helping not only the environment but also the health of mankind.   Biodiesels are a win-win for everyone as the government gets an A+ having the EPA involved in such a worthwhile project with great measurable, tangible, and award winning results, AND companies stay out of legal trouble by having acceptable pollution controls in place along with the public health benefit!

    Congratulations to Maine Standard Biofuels and Oakhurst Dairy for their eco-friendly achievement.  I hope other partnerships will be forged and other cities like Portland will be able to breath easier and be models to the rest of the world.